The gig economy is on an upward trajectory, more so since 2020, when it saw a huge surge accelerated by the pandemic. And it shows no signs of slowing down worldwide, with industry growth now expected to reach $455 billion in 2023, double the value of 2018 and a CAGR of 17%. Meanwhile, as gig opportunities grow, so do the platforms connecting workers to remote opportunities.
Meaningful Gigs is one such platform, touting itself as the go-to marketplace for freelance designers in Africa looking to earn a living by accepting assignments from multinationals in the United States like Coca-Cola, Audi, Vans, and IDEO.
The DC-based startup is set to accelerate its growth by signing up more designers to its platform after raising $6 million in seed funding.
“We are thinking about how we can let more dimensional traders across the continent know that we exist, so that we can help them earn five to seven times more than they do locally. We are creating more referral programs through our platform to help us scale across the continent,” Ronnie Kwesi Coleman, co-founder and CEO of Meaningful Gigs told TechCrunch.
The company plans an aggressive marketing campaign to attract at least 100 companies over the next year, out of the current 40 (17 being large companies) currently using its platform.
“The other side is just letting more brands like the biggest ones know that we exist because there’s a need for creatives in every company and every company is struggling to hire talent right now, and they don’t even know there’s a world full of talent out there,” Coleman said.
The round was led by Stage 2 Capital with participation from Rethink Education, Authentic Ventures, Reach Capital, Marla Blow, Zvi Band and Michele Perry.
Mandy Cole, Partner at Stage 2 Capital, said, “With the shortage of highly skilled talent and the growing need for diverse thinking, especially in creative, marketing and product areas, Meaningful Gigs solves a huge problem by connecting talented African designers with companies to deliver best-in-class design.
“We’ve been impressed with the Meaningful Gigs team’s focus on providing the best design experience for their clients while providing amazing tools for their designers; we are delighted to support their journey to become the destination for diverse design talent.
Coleman co-founded the startup in 2018 with Stephanie Nachemja-Bunton (COO) and Max Farago (CTO), inspired by the need to create a platform that would provide more high-paying gigs for people looking for work opportunities. non-traditional and a new labor market. entering Africa. This comes on top of helping companies find talent outside of the usual pools.
“The three of us have been friends for 10 years and we are part of the same creative community. One day we came across this startling statistic which stated that by 2050, the number of young people entering the labor market in Africa would be greater than all the young people entering the labor market in the rest of the world. And we thought that was crazy. It felt like we could build a business around that. And personally it touched me because I grew up in Ghana,” Coleman said.
Coleman has been in the creative and tech industry for the past decade. Before founding Meaningful Gigs, he and Nachemja-Bunton co-founded another entity that helped creatives win “sustainably.” He also previously worked as Business Development Manager at StayNTouch, a hotel management platform.
Nachemja-Bunton, on the other hand, has had a long career in education, having previously held several positions including Director of Teaching and Learning at One World Education. The third co-founder, Farago, is an experienced data engineer who moved from law to technology a few years ago. Prior to joining Coleman and Nachemja-Bunton to launch Meaningful Gigs, he was Vice President of Engineering at Deep Root Analytics.
While the startup’s core business is matching the right workers together with the right company, Meaningful Gigs also plans to offer ongoing training to designers signed up on its platform to ensure they are up to speed. aware of the latest knowledge, trends and technologies in the fast-changing digital world.
“What we’ve seen is that for anyone to succeed in this ever-changing digital landscape, it’s not enough to get a job – you need to be able to learn skills on the job. And so, we want to create the first remote jobs and skills marketplace for creatives, where we teach people new skills as we go. We mix jobs and education,” said Nachemja-Bunton.
To register on the platform, designers go through a verification process that includes test projects. Meaningful Gigs has already connected “thousands” of these designers from “more than a dozen” countries in Africa with clients.
The startup is tapping into the potential of the fast-growing gig economy that has disrupted the traditional work setup. The internet and new technologies have allowed people to earn a living remotely and businesses to work with untapped talent.
“We want to become the world’s leading remote job marketplace. We want to create 100,000 jobs by 2028. And to achieve that, we focus on customer empathy and really understand what they need. A lot of [seed round] the money is going to be spent to create the best experience for them. We want working with African designers to be 10 times better than working with anyone else. We want to invest in building relationships so they don’t want to go anywhere else,” Coleman said.